I got an award at work last week to commend my initiative and the good work I've been doing in a new role I've taken on (in addition to my old role). Even though it's just a semi-cheesy plaque thingy, the recognition is a big freakin' deal to me. Since I used to work for company that overworked us, underpaid us, and never recognized a job well done or encouraged any kind of employee morale, it's great to be publicly appreciated for the work I do.
I don't talk about my job much, probably because when I'm not at work, I'd rather not think about it. I'm a quality assurance engineer for a software company, which is just as exciting as it sounds (zzzzzz). Since I majored in journalism (advertising track) and psychology, this is about as far as I could get from any job I ever imagined I'd have. How I ended up in this job is kind of a long story, but there was a tad bit of nepotism involved :) (although now I really feel like I need to tell the story so you don't think I'm undeserving).
I appreciate my job for the paycheck (first and foremost), the adult interaction and friendships I've made here, and the occasional mental stimulation, but I don't necessarily love what I do. Being honest, there have been times where I've regretted my decisions that led me down this career path (if I had picked a different major, would I be doing a job I love???). Since I have no technical background (never taken a computer science class in my life, I'm just learning things as I go along), I often feel inadequate, even though it doesn't affect my ability to do my job well (go figure! I'm as surprised as you probably are).
I've been doing the QA thing for over 6 years now, but I recently took on an additional role managing a new software development process (agile, if anyone has any idea what I'm talking about) we've implemented. The role is well suited to my strengths. I facilitate meetings (oh so many meetings) and help coordinate my team's tasks, making sure we're successful in reaching our goals. I'm the scrum master. For real, that's the name of my new role.
It's more work, but I actually enjoy my job more these days. One thing this company and my rotating door of managers has always done was made me feel appreciated. But now I feel more involved and more valuable. It's validation that maybe I didn't totally screw up my career path, and maybe I'm not totally wasting 8 hours a day.
See, that's totally a big deal!